DMINLGP

DMin, Leadership and Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

Is Mayhem at Your Digital Doorway?

Written by: on March 19, 2019

Cal Newport’s Digital Minimalism helps readers resist, adapt, declutter, reduce, detox, and hopefully become more effective within an otherwise messy digital construct of zero’s and one’s. The key comment by Newport that caught my attention was “The App Store” wants your soul.[1] This post will examine Newport’s ideas and claims while trying to extract and expose the nefarious schemes of mayhem that Newport describes as an unintended consequence after the introduction of Facebook (FB) and Apple I-phones. I will offer a short biography of my introduction to the computer age and then review Newport’s ideas on digital addiction and detoxification while connecting his minimalism themes to my dissertation research on spiritual warfare.

Mark and I have the retrospective benefit of being two of the more experienced members of the LGP8 cohort. In other words, we were around before the digital age. I remember beginning my introduction to the computer age by typing 0’s and 1’s on paper punch cards, stacking the cards, and then feeding them into a punch card reader that translated the 0’s and 1’s into a Fortran programming language that could do basic math problems. At that time in my life I was more concerned about my football letter jacket, cheerleaders, school sports, hunting, and outdoor sports like skiing over the present high school standard of texting, tweeting, Facebooking in the school hallways while worrying about who likes or dislikes my selfies and daily “me” updates on social media.

Newport says that “Humanity has grossly underestimated the impact of digital addiction.”[2] Furthermore, the side-effects of prolonged exposure to social media is causing moderate levels of “behavioral addiction” that pattern and resemble chemical substance addictions. [3]  I wonder and ask myself, why? What changed and how did entire Western societies get hooked and addicted to social media in less than 15 years? I think Galloway’s The Four that we read last summer gives some good insights into the problems facing us in a fast-paced digital age that is dominated by Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google.[4] The marketing scheme reported by Newport, is how FB and Apple play upon people’s emotional needs for positive reinforcement and social approval.[5] People become addicted to checking their smart-phones, computers, and smart-watches to see their “Likes” and then get their emotional-physiological “dopamine” fix that they lack from contemporary real world of face-to-face interactions. Wow! Is this a form of a pre-Matrix evolution we are witnessing? While I am not sure if the devil is interested in changing us into batteries that power the machine world, I am certain he is interested in seizing non-saved souls, destroying our Christian witness, and creating mayhem wherever he can gain access. Satan even has mayhem commercials playing as another way to desensitize people to his real existence in the world. Watch “Mayhem Forbidden Apple”  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K9OrEMlMrv0

How would you feel if Maher had said “The Devil wants your soul” instead of “The App store wants your soul?” In this age of digitally numb consumers, it might just slide right by without much notice.  Some churchy people might feel uncomfortable, but it is more likely that most people will reject the notion as far-fetched and extreme in our modern world where mayhem is just another insurance commercial. Do you get the idea? These schemes are subtle, and the forces involved play the long game with our social media structures with an investment strategy to win total control of our spiritual portfolio.

Digital detoxification is one of Newport’s more trendy unoriginal ideas that follows the more common weight loss themes. His guidance it to voluntarily enter a 30-day digital free type of diet to free yourself from the craves and desires of technology gorging.[6] In combination with the digital detox is his philosophy on digital minimalism that only uses tech on just a few select activities that personally support what you do and value; he recommends dumping the rest.[7] To me, the best type of control for us Christians mixed up the digital world is to focus on the One that created the world and dwells within us, the Holy Spirit. I’m pretty sure a close walk with the Holy Spirit will keep all of us on course and detoxed in the digital world.

Artificial intelligence (AI), according to Galloway’s assessment, is the emerging threat that is taking over our social media souls. AI is used by Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google to spy on your digital likes, dislikes, views, shopping, travel, personal biography and more. When all this data is analyzed by their quantum computers they have the closest thing to an all-knowing existence, outside the Omniscience of God of course. Within the evil schemes of spiritual warfare, AI gives the devil another destructive tool as the ruler of world. However, as a created being, he has limitations and is regularly restrained by God, but AI will boost his ability to be more predictive on our actions, patterns, and ways to be tempted. Sound scary, it is! That is why I am so concerned for the spiritual welfare for each of us, and anyone you love and minster to, to be armored up and wearing Christ as our defense against the advancing schemes of the devil.

In summary, I like Newport’s work and if he had added the Christ factor, it would be an outstanding digital self-help guide. I give him credit for revealing the devil in disguise through his metaphorical connections to social media agents who act like mayhem prowling the digital world for more 0’s and 1’s.

Stand firm,

Mike w

[1] Cal Newport. Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World. (London: Portfolio, 2019) 11.
[2] Cal Newport. Summary & Analysis of Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World. (London: ZIP Reads, 2019) Kindle Location, 104.
[3] Newport, Digital Minimalism, 14.
[4] Scott Galloway. The Four: The Hidden DNA of Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google. (New York: Portfolio, Penguin, 2017) 55.
[5] Cal Newport. Summary & Analysis of Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World. (London: ZIP Reads, 2019) Kindle Location, 104.
[6] Newport, Digital Minimalism, 70.
[7] Cal Newport. “7 Tales Of Digital Minimalism.” Spirituality & Health Magazine 22, no. 2 (2019): 46.

 

About the Author

mm

Mike

5 responses to “Is Mayhem at Your Digital Doorway?”

  1. mm Jean Ollis says:

    Hi Mike,
    Your blog got buried under Dave’s late post! I’m glad I sought it out. Thank you for a wise post – and for bringing Newport’s lack of connection to God to the forefront. You know the power of AI, and the information that can be accessed more than the rest of us. And it’s scary. In this realm of 15 years of technology we absolutely need the armor of God X2. I found Newport to be secularly wise and practical. Stay safe!

  2. mm Kyle Chalko says:

    Great post Mike. EXCELLENT point about the entertainment world removing the real devil and just making it “mayhem”, and Newports title is silly in comparison to the real battle going on for souls.

  3. mm Dan Kreiss says:

    Mike,

    I am right there with you and Mark when it comes to the digital age. I didn’t see my first real computer until college and even then only really used it as a typewriter that didn’t require ‘whiteout’.

    I think you are correct in assessing AI as a potential threat not only in the distant future but in the present as well. It is already being utilized to pressure unknowing individuals to spend in order to satiate very short term desires. It is a spiritual battle and this aspect of the issue should not be ignored. I am glad you are helping others to recognize that there is more at work here than simply misappropriated technology.

  4. Shawn Hart says:

    Wow Mike…I was surprised to find out they had invented paper by the time you were in High School. LOL.

    I remember our first answering machine, microwave, and cable box. By the time I was 10, I was more reliable than the TV guide with telling you what was going to be on for the next week. And yet, with all that information, I still had plenty of time to go out and play with my friends until it got too dark to see.

    This tells me the Devil is working overtime right now; the schemes he is working has done such a good job of distracting people from his threat. All those scripture on the “blind;” perhaps God was just warning us that we would not take the time to look up from our phones.

  5. LOL Mike. Glad you gave me a shoutout in your post, and then I see Dan joining our aged cohort in the comments.

    Learning to develop spiritual disciplines and being attentive to how the enemy can corrupt us using the internet is fundamental for leaders. This article on how YouTube influences children was in my paper this morning. (I still have a subscription to the daily newspaper – I know, what a dinosaur…!)

    http://epaper.nationalpost.com/@Reader304775/csb__sWBi3aOsXwravT5IGi85YAlJvfiuxFqCYgn-6TiBfIskQ4zT3fXHTE7f7ejFnhs8Ot9G291tr4_QZf41gMZYQ

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